Crutched Friars (Friars of the Cross)

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The name "crutched," "crouched," or "crossed" friars was applied in medieval England to a number of orders: knights of malta, templars, trinitarians, probably bethlehemites, and particulary to the Order of the Holy Cross (the Kruisherren of the Netherlands, the Croisiers of France, known in English-speaking lands as crosier fathers). It would presumably have been applied also to the Italian Order of the Cruciferi (which grew up in 12th-century Italy, centered at Bologna, and was abolished in 1656 by Alexander VII) had that Order ever reached England.

According to tradition, the order of the Holy Cross was founded in 1211 at Huy (Belgium) by Theodore de Celles, a canon of Liège. There is, however, no documentary evidence for the order before 1247, when it was approved by innocent iv. There were then two houses: the motherhouse at Huy and a second at Whaplode in Lincolnshire. The order adopted the Rule of St. augustine along with constitutions borrowed from the dominicans; the habit consisted of a white cassock with a black scapular bearing a red and white cross. In the 13th century the order showed the characteristics of the mendicant or ders, but it subsequently evolved into an order of canons regular. Although some of the early foundations were unsuccessful, by 1300 the order had about a dozen establishments, confined to Belgium, France, and England. In the 14th and 15th centuries it grew to about 60 housesmore than half of them in Holland and the Rhinelandall subject to a prior general at Huy. The English, German, and most of the Dutch houses were lost to Protestantism in the 16th century, while the French and Belgian foundations did not survive the 18th. By 1840 only two small houses in Holland remained, and from these the modern Crosier Fathers grew.

See Also: brethren of the cross.

Bibliography: r. w. emery, "The Second Council of Lyons and the Mendicant Orders," American Catholic Historical Review 39 (1953) 262264 h. f. chettle, "The Friars of the Holy Cross in England," History 34 (1949) 204220. r. haass, Die Kreuzherren in den Rheinlanden (Bonn 1932). e. beck, "The Order of Holy Cross (Crutched Friars) in England," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 3d. ser., 7 (1913) 191208. c. r. hermans., Annales canonicorum regularium s. Augustini ordinis s. Crucis, 3 v. ('s Hertogenbosch 1858).

[r. w. emery]